leveson.jpgThe Leveson Inquiry has had its final hearing in its inquiry into “the culture, practices, and ethics of the press”.   The first hearing was on 6 September 2011 and the Inquiry has has received evidence in 26 weeks of sittings.    Lord Justice Leveson now has the summer to write his report on Part 1 of his inquiry.

The final day was occupied by closing submissions by David Sherborne (for the Core Participant Victims), Jonathan Caplan QC for Associated Newspapers, Alan Rusbridger (in the morning) and by Rhodri Davies QC for News International (in the afternoon).

There was extensive media coverage of the final day – for example in the “Daily Mail“, “the Guardian“, “the Daily Telegraph” and BBC News.  The reports of the final day of sittings give the impression that the evidence phase of the Inquiry has now been completed.  However, what was originally intended as the main “evidence gathering”  phase of the Inquiry, Part 2, has not yet commenced.  The Terms of Reference for Part 2  include, amongst other things, a requirement to inquire into

“the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International, other newspaper organisations and, as appropriate, other organisations within the media, and by those responsible for holding personal data”

The Inquiry has, up to now, steered clear of any factual investigation into phone hacking.  Although it was announced yesterday that 8 individuals were to be charged  with phone hacking related offences, the purpose of a criminal prosecution is very different from that of a public inquiry and it is likely that, after the prosecutions have concluded, many questions will remain unanswered.

In his last ruling in Part 1 of the Inquiry – given on 23 July 2012 and dealing with “Further Developments” Lord Justice Leveson dealt with Operation Motorman, Rule 13 letters (that is letters to those who might be the subject of criticism in the report) and other matters but made no mention of Part 2.

The BBC has an interesting and entertaining analysis of the “Big Numbers” of the Leveson Inquiry, which tells us, amongst other things:

  • That 474 people and and 135 organisations gave evidence – including 202 from media and PR, 48 from the police, 41 from the law and 38 from politics.
  • That 3.2 million words were spoken, 547,000 by Robert Jay QC, 334,000 by Lord Justice Leveson with the next highest being Nick Davies (36,000), Alastair Campbell (31,000) and David Cameron (26,000).
  • The witnesses with the worst memories were David Cameron, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks.